Legislative Compensation (S.39) - May 2/4, 2023

Tuesday

The House Government Operations Committee took up the legislative compensation bill, S.39, on Tuesday, reviewing the Senate version of the bill.

Josalyn Williams (Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures) joined the Committee to provide testimony on legislative compensation across the country. Legislative salaries range from $0 to nearly $120k annually. The median pay is around $31,775 per year. However, for part-time legislatures, this number drops to $13,111 in annual compensation.

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Workforce and Economic Development (H.484) - May 2-3, 2023

In preparation to receive H.484 back from the Senate, the House Commerce Committee began digging into the differences between their version of the bill and the Senate's version on Tuesday.

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Rewriting Apprenticeship Statutes

Jay Ramsey from the Department of Labor joined the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday to catch them up to speed on Vermont's apprenticeship landscape. He shared that Apprenticeships are a proven workforce solution. A registered apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce and individuals can obtain paid work experience, receive progressive wage increases, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential

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Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - May 2, 2023

After lunch on Tuesday, the House Environment & Energy Committee continued their work on S.100. They now had a Draft 5.1 from Legislative Counsel to review.

The new draft of the bill includes a section signaling a major policy shift. The new language would call for the Natural Resources Board to work with the Vermont Association of Planning and Development Agencies to develop a framework for delegating the Administration of Act 250 permits to municipalities. The Committee expressed interest in asking for consultation with an “environmental organization,” state agencies (presumably the Agency of Natural Resources), and possible public hearings.

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Oversight of Independent Schools (H.483) - May 2, 2023

On Tuesday, Chairman Campion brought up H.483 for the Senate Education Committee to see where members are at with the bill. He noted that the provisions related to discrimination were addressed in the 2200 rule series and “seemed to be working effectively.” He added that people had been asking about the moratorium on new schools receiving approval status. He thought it might make sense to move forward on that piece and then “assess” next year “how many [schools] are in the queue.”

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Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - May 1, 2023

On Monday, the House Environment & Energy Committee took up S.100, which is the main housing bill this session. The Committee was reviewing Draft 4.3 of the bill with Legislative Counsel. A number of provisions in the bill would override local zoning regulations that some consider discriminatory and may discourage growth.

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Legislative Update - April 30, 2023

Governor Scott has already promised to veto the Clean Heat Standard (S.5) passed by the Senate on Thursday. Senators voted 20-10 to concur with the House version of the bill that would create a carbon-pricing system for heating fuels based on their carbon intensity. This was one vote short of being able to sustain a veto, so one Senator would need to shift their position on the bill in order to Scott's veto to be successful.

In preparation for the vote, Campaign for Vermont sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee explaining why the "check-back" provision was weak and they should strengthen it. One of the bill sponsors acknowledged in the floor debate that the original version of the bill "fully implemented the Clean Heat Standard,” and that the check-back was an afterthought. Essentially, the bill allows the Public Utility Commission to implement key pieces of the system prior to legislative approval and exercise enforcement powers for non-compliance.

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Interim Vermont State College President

On Friday, the Senate Education Committee welcomed Mike Smith. Chairman Campion thanked him for coming in person to talk to the Committee. Smith was born in Rutland County, went to high school in Woodstock, and then pursued military service right after high school. When he came out of the service he went to UVM for a graduate degree. Most of his career was spent as CEO of several companies and held a number of positions within state government.

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Housing Opportunities for Everyone (S.100) - April 25-28, 2023

Wednesday

The House Environment & Energy Committee heard from a few repeat presenters on Wednesday from the Agency of Natural Resources, the Department of Public Service, and Green Mountain Power. They didn't have much new to add to the conversation and one of them even said “I don’t really know what else I can offer to help you.”

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Property Tax Bill (H.492) - April 28, 2023

The Senate Finance Committee had been kicking around the property tax bill, H.492, for a couple weeks and circled back again on Friday. They also had a fresh Education Fund Outlook to look at. The Senate’s version did not include cannabis retail taxes and had a slightly higher average property tax bill. It also had a slightly lower carry-over from the previous year based on the latest projections.

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